Thursday, July 12, 2007

Newton’s Law

It was the medical jargon behind me that attracted my attention during my wait at the air port. After a while I looked back, to see a man instructing a group. When he finished and went off, I struck a conversation with one of them. Yes, they were a group of medical doctors, being taken for a tour of Singapore and Malaysia. What was interesting was that they were all medical practitioners from different remote villages.

Were they going for some medical conference? No, it was a pleasure trip. How did they all come together? And how come this sudden interest in foreign pleasure trip?

The information I got shook me to the inner core. A drug company arranged free foreign trip for doctors who completed a certain quota of medical prescriptions. In their eagerness to finish the quota, these doctors prescribed the medicines left and right.

If the patient is having an infection, at least two strong antibiotics are prescribed, with a justification that ‘at least one of them will act and bring immediate relief’.

When the patient’s condition is such that he doesn’t require medication, a minimum of two vitamins and a tonic are prescribed, ’to increase the immunity’. Am I justified in complaining when I know the psychology of many a patient? They want immediate relief from any sort of problem. They don’t want to listen to the fact that strong medications have strong side effects and that the body itself is capable of correcting many a disorder, given a little rest and time.

This patient psychology is conducive to the over prescription by doctors. Apart from financing foreign trips, there are many lucrative offers to the doctors who can push the medicines ruthlessly. They arrange for interior decorations of the doctor’s cabin, provide plush sofa sets for the waiting room, and pay for the conferences.

Until recently, doctors were considered no less than Gods by the patients who approached them. My heart grieved over the fact that they have surely fallen down from that pedestal. But then, how can doctors be different from the society? Their behavior can be explained by Newton’s law, ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction’.

We may feel angry on hearing about an unnecessary appendicectomy of a five year old kid of an income tax officer, by a junior doctor, just to gain surgical experience. But we may be forced to believe that it is just a manifestation of Newton’s law when the fact is known that this officer had harassed another doctor, by passing unjust orders against him because the officer was in a hurry to finish his work and didn’t study the case properly.

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